Helpful or creepy

I don’t want to come across as naive here.  

I’ve watched enough movies and crime shows to know that, as long as you’re carrying your cell phone, you can be found.  You attach to cell phone towers which know where your phone is.  That’s how your phone rings wherever you are.  It’s unlike your wired home phone (if you still have one) that is permanently attached to the network.

So, I get that.

But it still felt a bit weird to see it in action.

I had plans to meet a friend for a coffee yesterday.  There’s nothing new there.  I like coffee!  Normally, I just remember and go.  However, yesterday was an incredibly busy day so I had to do some scheduling to make sure I didn’t forget any commitments.  I use my Google Calendar to keep everything up to date and I share with those who need to know where I am.  Again, nothing new there.  I had made an entry to remind me to meet him.

Then, my watch vibrated.

I looked down and saw that it was a memo from Google that I had to leave by this time in order to get to Tim Horton’s on time.  Cute.  I did a little mental math and realized that it was within reason.  Their algorithms are great.

Within the past couple of weeks, I think that we all know about Yahoo!’s news and its scanning emails for messages.  A post by a competitor goes into a detailed description and offers a reason to switch to their services.

Many of us have used Gmail for years and I think we all know that the price that we pay for free is that our messages are scanned so that related advertising can be displayed when you check email.  So, it appears that the calendar might be doing some poking around – in this case with maps.

How do I know?  Well, while the estimated travel time was close, it wasn’t exactly correct.  I went into the calendar to see the details and found that I had a different Tim Horton’s restaurant recorded than the one I was going to.  I thought it a bit bizarre until I realized that the one in the event was one that I had actually got driving details for when I went to a different coffee date at a place I’d never been before.  You can read a bit more about the concept here.

I had to smile because I guess I put one over on Google.  Not by being clever, but by not paying attention.  I guess I’m going to have to pay better attention if I’m going to get the most benefit from this.

I also think that, if this is going on, I might be creating a somewhat bizarre picture of myself.  It’s nothing for me to use Google Maps to check up on locations that I see referenced on television.  Last night, for example, detectives drove from Manhattan to Attica Correctional.  I used Google Maps to determine how long that trip would be and what highways they would likely have driven.  This weekend is the Japanese Grand Prix in Susuka.  I always like to look in and see where the racetracks are and what’s around them.  This one is intriguing since it’s a figure eight.  In doing my research, I jokingly asked for directions.  For just under $2000, I could fly direct from Detroit.

All of this is interesting and helpful to satisfy my curiosity.

It’s also a little creepy too.

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